Getting Fit: Where do you start?
Getting Fit: My advice summed up in 4 steps.
So you want to get in shape. You try out random workouts at home, random jogs on your own, some diets here and there, even attend some fun exercise classes but nothing seems to sustain you long enough in order to see some decent improvement. You are starting to wander if you should get yourself a personal trainer. Stop right there!
As a personal trainer I see a lot of clients come in, purchase a package but are not able to complete them. In fact having sign ups that don’t make use of gym premises is a very common thing in the fitness industry. It is frustrating for a trainer to dedicate time and effort into training someone who is not consistent. This is because very little progress is made and at the end of the day, if the client does not achieve any progress that is a reflection on the trainer’s credibility. I can’t speak for other trainers, but to me the reason I chose to do this is to cause an impact on people. Getting fitter, makes you more capable as an individual. Helps you perform better as you are sharper, you will be able to move more and at a faster rate which means more things get done in a day. You don’t get tired easily and you will be able to sustain those long and demanding hours at work to complete urgent projects.
Well ideally, this is the goal. But getting your body out of the state of a statuary lifestyle to an active lifestyle is a process by itself. It takes time and most importantly consistency. You got to start thinking about food differently. Make work-out appointments a priority just as you would a doctor’s appointment. Considering the different people I have met: seeing some who dropped out of the program while others succeed and are truly happy, I came up with a few steps that you should think about trying out before you invest in a personal trainer. Let’s face it, one to one sessions are not cheap but they bring the best results. Here are some tips in making your investment worthwhile.
Step 1: Analyze your lifestyle
What are the time-slots you can set aside each week for training (minimum 3 times a week)?
Not all of them have to be sessions with a trainer. Most of my clients train twice a week with me and once a week do a run or spin class. But doing something at least 3 times a week would be my recommendation. So try and set aside time for that.
Diet: Do you have an active social life? How often do you drink? Does work require you to attend several lunch or dinner appointments a week?
When you are in a professional setting, it is hard to be picky about your food. But think about it this way, if you had an allergy, would you suppress it and eat something you are allergic to just because you are in a social setting? Blame it on your trainer if you have to. But discipline is crucial. Practice moderation when you are not able to pick your dishes. Stay away from oily and greasy food. Leave the deserts for special occasions. Use fruits and smoothies to cope with your sugar cravings. Alcohol hinders your fitness progress. Although it is alright to drink once in a while, the more serious you are about achieving your goals, the more you should save drinking to special occasions- once a month or less.
*Diet and Nutrition is another big topic hence I will do another write up with better elaborations and tips on it.
Step 2: Set realistic short-term and long-term goals
When you write them down, they become concrete. You are putting yourself accountable to it. Start off by asking yourself how you would want your lifestyle to be like 10-20 years from now. What are the things that makes you happy (truly happy) and are you currently on the path towards that? Before I picked up Muay Thai, I asked myself the same question. I realized I wasn’t much of a traveler; neither do I enjoy being a tourist. However I wanted to create a lifestyle whereby I travel to different parts of Thailand and am able to stay there and train. Challenge myself physically and put to the test the training program that I follow at home. It took me 4 years to make that happen. I thought it would only take me a year! But you know what, life gets in the way. I needed to get my education and proper work experiences along the way. But it did not stop me. I picked up boxing/Muay Thai in 2009. In 2013, I did my first solo trip to Phuket for training and have done 7 trips now each time staying anywhere between 2-6 weeks. It has truly become part of my lifestyle now that I don’t even worry about it anymore.
So there you go, break down your long-term goals. Set realistic short term goals. And most importantly, don’t be too harsh on yourself. It is ok, it of takes longer than expected. Just stay the course. Don’t give up. Surround yourself with people who support your vision even if they don’t share the same goals. It sincerely helps.
Step 3: Jot down habits that you need to cultivate and eliminate
So, I am a firm believer of journaling as I like to write things down. I remember them better when I write them down. You could use an app if you want to. Basically the idea is to be more conscious of your day to day habits. These habits are building blocks to achieving your goals. I like using something called a bullet list. You start of by listing down the habits that you need to incorporate into your life on a daily/weekly basis. For example: Jog 3 times a week; Prepare lunch to bring along to work. Then list down the habits that you would like to eliminate on a daily/weekly basis. Example: No deserts; No sugary drinks. Check them out when you manage to succeed to implementing that habit for that day. At the end of the week, the more checks you have the closer you are to achieving your goals! It’s a rewarding feeling to see that. And it keeps you on track.
*Pictures below to illustrate.
Step 4: Get professional help if you need to
Now that you have made some attempt and know which areas you fall back on, you are at a better position to get the right help. If what you are struggling with is getting a workout in 3 times a week, then start off with group classes just to get active and get physical again. But if you have injuries and are not too familiar with exercise forms, then do a session with a personal trainer once a week just to get some knowledge. If setting aside the time is an issue, then work on what adjustments you have to make to your current lifestyle in order to make that happen. You would have to make sacrifices. It may mean saying no to a post-work dinner/ shopping or waking up earlier over the weekend to get your work-outs in. Get into an active routine before you invest in a personal trainer. I have had clients who have been able achieve their goals training with me for 6 months coming from a completely statutory lifestyle. But majority of success stories comes from people who have made efforts on their own before coming to me.
Alright there you go. Now this is just my suggestion based on the techniques I use with my clients. Frankly, as a trainer what we would like to see is our clients taking the training seriously. When you have made an attempt on your own, you know yourselves better and you make better use with your time with your trainer. We see the effort. We are able to see you performing better when you manage to get your cardio in unsupervised. We can see it when have been lazing on your diet. Your body does not lie. Try to take a more systematic approach to your fitness journey instead of trying to squeeze in as many sessions as possible whenever you feel like it. The goal is consistency. When you are consistent, the results will follow.
Labels, they are just labels. Everyone in the industry call it different names but basically there is 2 main distinctions from a consumer's perspective. To make things easier, let me define them for you and then go on elaborating the 2 main distinctions that you should be aware of as a consumer in the fitness industry.
A Coach (fitness or sport specific)
A coach specializes in a sport or in fitness in general. Their job is to teach you and educate you about the sport or exercise which they are making you do. Execute training programs and conduct sessions. Their job responsibilities ends there. For an hour they do all they can to teach you as much as they can, give you feedback on your strength and weaknesses with relevance to fitness.
A Personal Trainer
As the name suggests, there is a more personal element to it. First of all personal trainers have relevant certifications regarding personal training, nutrition, strength and conditioning. That would cover the theoretical and scientific part of the training. However these are just paper qualifications, what these enable them to do is to gain knowledge and access to information that they may require when meeting a client with complex needs.
Above training, a personal trainer customizes their approach in dealing with different clients. They motivate, guide, educate, look for solutions for arising problems, and even serve as therapists from time to time by counselling clients in order to keep them focused and driven towards their fitness goals.
So here you go, hope this gives you a general idea of the main distinctions between the two. Some people switch the names around but overall the concept is the same. As for me, a lot of times I share my personal life and experiences with my clients because that enables them to gear motivation from my life and lifestyle choices in order to achieve their fitness goals. And a lot of times, in order for me to work with their schedule and get them motivated to stay disciplined to their training and nutrition, I do get to know them at a personal level too. Their lives, the daily struggles and challenges they go through. It does play an important role in my relationship with my clients.
How does this information affect you?
If you are starting out in your fitness journey, there are 2 main things to consider. Are you looking at group classes or a personalized and individually catered approach? A lot of people are able to attain their fitness goals just by attending group classes. Some gravitate towards picking up a sport and that keeps them motivated to stay in shape. And then there are some people who have injuries or who get injured when attempting group classes. Some have busy and unpredictable schedules that does not allow them to attend structured classes. Also, a lot of my clients find themselves cheating during group classes and blatantly quitting when they get tired or annoyed at certain exercises that are challenging to them in a group setting. So do consider all of these factors when deciding which approach to take, which fitness professional to approach with regards to your training and fitness goals.
All the best in your fitness endeavors! Do feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have regarding the topics that i have discussed. :)
Author: Suba Day
Hi, I am a Personal Trainer and my blog posts are based on questions my clients tend to ask me.